A Speaker From The Jackson Area?
While we are a long way from knowing who the next Speaker will be, there is the possibility that a Speaker may be elected from the Jackson area. Something that hasn’t happened in what I refer to as the modern era.
Sam Lumpkin of Tupelo served one term as Mississippi Speaker of the House from 1940-1944. Lumpkin’s one term was typical of most up to that point. Speakers would serve a term and then someone new would take over. Because of this it is difficult to keep track of every Speaker and their hometown. (Its possible, just tiring). For this post, I am considering 1944 the beginning of the modern era for House Speakers.
Walter Sillers would take over in 1944, begin the longest run as Speaker in state history, and transform the post. Sillers was a native of Rosedale in Bolivar county. John Junkin of Natchez would serve from 1966-1976. Buddie Newman of Valley Park (in Issaquena county) would control the gavel from 1976-1988. He would be followed by Tim Ford of Baldyn who served from 1988-2004. And most recently, Billy McCoy of Rienzi would serve from 2004-2012. So after the one and done tradition was broke in 1944, McCoy’s two terms would actually be the shortest reign.
In those hometowns mentioned, you heard a lot of small towns and communities and no one from the capitol region. Two Speaker’s from the Delta, two from Northeast Mississippi, and one from Southwest Mississippi.
This year, we have one active candidate from the metro area and two who look to be serious contenders but haven’t made any formal statements yet. Democrat Cecil Brown is from Jackson. Republican Philip Gunn is from Clinton and Mark Baker is from Brandon. Any of these men winning would be a modern era first. Another first would be if Republican Mark Formby of Picayune took control. He’d be the first Speaker from Southeast Mississippi.
Also, Northeast Mississippi has controlled the post for 24 straight years with Ford and McCoy. Republican Jeff Smith of Columbus is definitely running, and Democrat Tyrone Ellis of Starkville is also a possible candidate. Still, the region’s grip on the gavel is in jeopardy.